The Cincinnati Bengals are likely bracing for Tyler Eifert to be out in Week 3.
On Thursday, Eifert wasn’t spotted at the open portion of practice after missing Wednesday’s session, due to a back injury in addition to a knee issue.
#Bengals TE Tyler Eifert, who missed practice entirely Wednesday with a bad back, once again absent. Likely means out for Sunday.— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) September 21, 2017
Head coach Marvin Lewis also told SiriusXM that Eifert’s status for Week 3 is “up in the air.” Backs can be a tricky thing to deal with, so perhaps it could improve enough between now and Sunday that he’s able to play. It’s still unclear how serious the knee issue is, though it’s thought to be the lesser of the two injuries.
Neither was thought to be serious, but between Eifert’s injury history and the Bengals being very mum on injured players, there’s no telling how bad Eifert’s issue is or how much time he could miss.
For all we know, he’s fine and these two days off are just to get him some extra rest before going Sunday. He’s been here long enough that he could go a week without practicing and still play the following Sunday.
The Bengals are certainly hoping that’s the case, as Eifert’s mere presence on the field forces defenses to adjust accordingly. Despite his health concerns, Eifer is still one of the best tight ends in the NFL.
Eifert’s numbers haven’t been good thus far, but a big reason for that are the struggles of the offensive line, Andy Dalton and former offensive Coordinator Ken Zampese, who has since been replaced with Bill Lazor.
The hope is that Lazor will reignite this offense and get Eifert more involved, but that obviously can’t happen if the latter isn’t even playing.
If he’s out, Tyler Kroft will likely start in his place. The third-year backup has just one catch for five yards on the season. We could also see h-back Ryan Hewitt get more reps at tight end.